A Swedish city is using crows to clear litter from the streets

A Swedish startup company is trying to train crows to pick up cigarette butts to keep Sweden's streets tidier.

The startup, Corvid Cleaning, saw a need for lower-cost cleaning tactics in Södertälje, a city outside of Stockholm. According to the Keep Sweden Tidy Foundation, one billion cigarette butts land on Sweden's streets every year which Södertälje spends 20 million kronor (or $2,153,946.66).

Corvid Cleaning founder, Christian Günther-Hanssen, thought of implementing birds to help clean while keeping costs low.

“They are wild birds taking part on a voluntary basis,” Günther-Hanssensaid to Swedish publication TT.

Crows cleaning swedish road Corvid Cleaningwww.youtube.com

The birds would be trained via a reward system that would administer food after the crows drop a cigarette butt into a machine designed by the startup.

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Research suggests crows are one of the most intelligent birds. As part of the corvid family, the birds are able to reason on the same intellectual level as a 7-year-old human.

“They are easier to teach and there is also a higher chance of them learning from each other. At the same time, there’s a lower risk of them mistakenly eating any rubbish," Günther-Hanssen said.

Corvid Cleaning would eliminate many of the overhead costs Södertälje spends on keeping streets clean.

“The estimation for the cost of picking up cigarette butts today is around 80 öre or more per cigarette butt, some say 2 kronor ($0.22). If the crows pick up cigarette butts, this would maybe be 20 öre per cigarette butt. The saving for the municipality depends on how many cigarette butts the crows pick up”.

The crows have not been implemented yet but the hope is with training, Corvid Cleaning can produce results that may allow the crows to help clean up Sweden's streets. The largest concern currently is the safety and well-being of the crows.

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